Wing Rips Off In Flight
A PARACHUTE CLUB'S AIRPLANE started falling apart shortly after takeoff Saturday afternoon and crashed in a farm field near Namur, Belgium. The pilot and all ten skydiver passengers were killed in the crash that left the plane a jumble of pieces and parts. The remaining fuel ignited and started the plane burning after coming down at 4 pm local time.
Most of the skydivers were experienced jumpers but the sole woman on board was taking her first flight. The plane had reportedly made at least a dozen flights previously that day without incident.
The PC-6 Pilatus Porter plane had taken off from the Temploux aerodrome but is thought to have developed a wing problem after reaching a height of about 3,000 metres.
Benolit Pierson, who was in his garden nearby at the time, said, "I just saw this plane bobbing violently up and down. It was obviously having great difficulty staying airborne and then it suddenly lost its right wing in mid-flight. I heard a massive bang. There was another massive explosion and ten seconds later it crashed."
He told Belgian television that seconds before it hit the ground, he saw three parachutists come out of the plane and try in vain to open their parachutes. "They appeared to be desperately trying to open their parachutes but it was much too late."
Michel Douront, a local fire chief, said: "It would normally take a plane like this 15 minutes to reach 4,000m so, as this happened after only ten minutes into the flight, it must have been at a height of about 3,000m. It appears to be a tragic accident."
The exact cause of the accident was still being investigated. Pieces of wing were found several hundred meters from the crash site.
All of the victims were between the ages of 20 and 40. The pilot had just become a father for the 2nd time earlier this week.
RTL TV1 has some candid crash scenes in this video report:
La Libre has the early report along with a photo gallery HERE.
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